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French citizens: what identity documents do I need to fly overseas?

Do you dream of escaping to the French overseas departments and territories and discovering the exotic islands of France? With more or less a 10-hour flight from Paris, it's a trip that needs to be well prepared. What are the formalities and, more specifically, what identity documents do French citizens need to present in order to fly overseas? What about minors? And what if your identity card is more than 10 years old? Step-by-step explanations of the documents you'll need.
Published on April 28, 2023

Overseas travel: which destinations are concerned?

The overseas territories comprise the regions, departments and communities of the French Republic that are geographically distant from metropolitan France. These territories are also commonly known as DOM-TOM (départements d'outre-mer and overseas territories), or under their new name DROM-COM (départements et régions d'outre-mer and overseas collectivities).

Located in the Americas, Oceania, the Indian Ocean and Antarctica, these destinations can have very different administrative regimes.

Long-haul flights can take you to :

  • Guadeloupe
  • Martinique
  • French Guiana
  • Reunion Island
  • Saint Pierre and Miquelon
  • Mayotte
  • Saint-Barthélemy
  • Saint-Martin
  • Polynesia
  • New Caledonia

What identity documents must French citizens in overseas France present?

For French adults

If you're visiting the French overseas departments and territories as a tourist, a valid identity card is all you need to get around the islands and see the sights.

However, you should not overlook the fact that between boarding your flight in mainland France and landing at an overseas airport, your journey may include connecting stops in other countries. When in transit during your flight, you must be able to present a valid passport.

For travellers under 18

The same applies to minors leaving mainland France for overseas destinations. An identity card is not sufficient for a stopover abroad. The young person must be in possession of a valid passport in his or her own name.

Minors traveling outside France without one of their parents present must present an authorization to leave the country in addition to their passport. The cerfa n°15646 form must be accompanied by a copy of proof of identity of the parent signing.

The special case of Saint-Martin international airport

The island of Saint-Martin is made up of two parts: one in the north is French, the other in the south is Dutch. Although the separation between the two is symbolic, and there are no systematic border controls, the island does have two separate airports.

Princess Juliana International Airport is located in the Netherlands. It welcomes large carriers with spectacular take-offs and landings just a few meters from the beach and bathers. Grand-Case Espérance airport is more suited to smaller aircraft and local services.

French travelers arriving from mainland France on their way to Saint-Martin in the French overseas departments and territories have to pass through the airport on the Dutch side of the island. A valid passport will be required, even if this passage is only for a short time.

Can I travel overseas with an ID card that is more than 10 years old?

Since 2014, the validity period of identity cards for adults has been extended from 10 to 15 years. This means that the card is valid for a further 5 years without completing any formalities.

If you were of age when your identity card was issued, and it was still valid on January 1, 2014, you will benefit from the automatic extension. For example, for a card issued in 2010 and initially valid until 2020, the extension takes the validity to 2025. For a card issued in 2013, the expiry date is changed from 2023 to 2028.

However, it is advisable to check that this particularity will not pose a problem during your trip. Some destinations accept this discrepancy between the date displayed and the actual expiry date. For travel to other countries, however, it's better to have a passport, or to apply for an early renewal of your identity card by presenting proof of your forthcoming trip.